The Chicago Blackhawks will take the ice with some old and new faces as they face-off against the league-leading Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon. A busy Friday saw Hawks GM Stan Bowman make several moves in advance of the trade deadline to shore up the Hawks line-up as they head into the final six weeks of the regular season and beyond. With the addition of former Blackhawk, Andrew Ladd, who is expected to play on the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, Bowman added depth at wing acquiring Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. All are expected to join the lineup on Sunday with the exception of Weise, who is in the process of securing a work visa. Using mostly draft picks plus one NHL roster player in the three trades, Bowman and the Blackhawks are hoping the new additions can provide the same depth contributions that helped them bring home last year's Stanley Cup.
Today, the Blackhawks have a difficult task at hand in trying to stop the offense of the winningest team in the league.
The Capitals scoring machine boasts a league-leading goal differential of a whopping +59 with the Hawks running a distant second at +25. Chicago lost a 4-1 contest in Washington in October and they'll be looking to snap an overall four-game losing streak against the Caps dating back to early in the 2013-14 season. While the Caps arrive on an upswing having won 10 of their last 12 games, including a 3-2 victory over Minnesota on Friday, Chicago has lost five of their last seven and are in need of a victory to right the ship and stay close to first-place Dallas.
Corey Crawford is expected to get the start in net and the Hawks will need to bring their team speed, be aggressive in the offensive zone and keep the Caps off of the man-advantage in order to take two points today.
Anticipated Blackhawks Lines:
Washington Capitals Record: 45-11-4 1st in Metropolitan Division Goal Differential: +59
In addition to powerhouse Alex Ovechkin, 23-year-old Evgeny Kuznetsov has made a splash on the Caps second line bringing 63 points in 60 games, including 45 assists, third-most in the NHL. Kuznetsov has been on the ice for 52 even-strength goals this season and his production, along with Ovechkin, has given the Caps the most potent one-two punch in hockey. Ovechkin scored his 40th goal of the season on Friday and shows no sign of slowing down as the Caps look to go deep in this year's post-season. As of Friday he has scored 12 goals in 12 games in February in addition to a league-leading 16 power play goals on the season. Braden Holtby is expected to get the start in net on Sunday.
The Capitals' roster has also undergone some changes this weekend, placing veteran forward Brooks Laich on waivers on Saturday afternoon as well as placing top defenseman John Carlson on injured reserve with a recurrence of a lower body injury that originally sidelined him in late December. Should Laich clear waivers he may be in the lineup against the Hawks. Additionally, the Caps could activate injured forward Jay Beagle for Sunday's game. Beagle has been out with a hand injury since Dec. 30.
Anticipated Washington Lines:
Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger
Capitals: John Carlson
How to watch
When: 11:30 am CT
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois